Citation:

Tinicum Twp. v. Nowicki, 99 A.3d 586 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2014).

Summary:
Mulching operation is neither a forestry nor an agricultural use.
Case Details:

Applicant ran a mulching business on its lot located in the Township’s Extraction Zoning District.  Applicant would haul tree stumps, logs and yard waste to the property and then process the materials into mulch.  The mulch then was hauled from the property to buyers.  The Township issued an Enforcement Notice stating the use was not permitted and Applicant appealed to the Zoning Hearing Board.  The Zoning Hearing Board determined that Applicant’s mulching process was not an agricultural use or a forestry use because the wood from which the mulch was produced did not originate on the site; therefore, the Zoning Hearing Board denied the appeal and the trial court affirmed.

The Commonwealth Court affirmed.  Applicant had argued that its mulching operation was protected as an “agricultural or forestry use” under the MPC or as an agricultural activity under the Right to Farm Act.  The Commonwealth Court dismissed Applicant’s argument based on the MPC’s definition of “forestry” and “agricultural operation.”  Applicant did not own, maintain or manage a forest on his property, nor did he “develop, cultivate, harvest, transport or sell trees from his land.”  Applicant likewise did not produce crops livestock or commodities.  Accordingly, Applicant’s operation was neither forestry nor an agricultural operation.  For the same reason, Applicant’s mulching was not protected by the Right to Farm Act.

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